From Margin to Center: Sex Work Decriminalization is a Racial Justice Issue

Sex workers wait for customers in Honduras (Photo Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images).

By Jasmine Sankofa, AIUSA Sexual and Reproductive Rights Advocate

Sex work is criminalized throughout the United States, typically as misdemeanor offenses. Similar to the way the Unites States treats and criminalizes drug use, the policing of sex work exacerbates stigma, compromises access to resources, justifies violence, and is steeped in racial disparities. Women of color, especially Black cisgender and transgender women, girls, and femmes, are particularly vulnerable. Because sex work and sex trafficking are conflated, interventions are focused on abolishing the sex industry instead of eliminating structural issues that drive exploitation. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Ohio’s proposed abortion bans would violate human rights—We must fight back!

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UPDATE SINCE LAST POSTED: 

Ohio has become the 18th state to adopt a 20-week abortion ban. Governor Kasich vetoed the 6-week abortion ban, and signed the 20-week abortion ban into law on December 13, 2016. The 20-week ban, as described below, has no exceptions for rape or incest. It also criminalizes and penalizes abortion providers who would be at risk of receiving an 18 month prison sentence for providing abortion services after 20 weeks.  

We, along with our partners, will continue to fight the unconstitutionality of bans like this, and the dangers of criminalization. 

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During the U.S. Presidential campaign, we watched in horror as public figures spoke proudly about their plans to defund Planned Parenthood. And we were witness to calls—including from then candidate/now President-elect Trump—for stricter abortion laws, even at one point calling for a total abortion ban, despite the fact that proposed restrictions and bans would put pregnant people’s lives in danger and violate international law.  One of the figures calling for stricter abortion laws was Governor Kasich of Ohio. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Why We Need to Address Gender-Based Violence, Now More Than Ever

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By Helena Klassen, Identity and Discrimination Intern and Nicole van Huyssteen, Women’s Human Rights Thematic Specialist

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the “16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence” (16 Days) campaign, originated by the Centre for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL). The campaign takes on a specific theme each year, which is determined by consulting with the many international human rights groups working to end gender-based violence (GBV). By calling upon individuals and organizations around the world to take action against GBV, the 16 Days campaign has had a significant impact and great success in building support of and activism for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls for more than two decades.   SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Education is a Human Right – That is, Unless you are Pregnant in Sierra Leone.

Anonymous school children, all girls, in front of a blackboard at an unidentified school somewhere in Sierra Leone.

Anonymous school children, all girls, in front of a blackboard at an unidentified school somewhere in Sierra Leone.

By Abby Saleh, Press intern, AIUSA

Thousands of pregnant girls are being excluded from school because of a rule issued by Sierra Leone’s government. In April of 2015, the Minister of Education, Science and Technology issued a statement banning all pregnant girls from school settings. This immediately went into action, and thousands of girls were denied access to education and were barred from taking exams. The government justified the policy as the protection of “innocent girls” from negative influences, which stigmatizes pregnant girls. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Six Trump Proposals That Must Never Become Policy

Donald Trump speaks at a campaign stop at the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs, Iowa © Matt A.J.

 By Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA

In the very early hours of November 9, we voiced our grave concern about statements that President-elect Donald Trump made over the course of the election and his promises to ban Muslims from entering the U.S., build a wall on our country’s southern border, restrict access to healthcare and return to the practice of torture.

Already in the U.S. there have been reports of a spike in hate-driven actions and threats. This is not a coincidence – it is further proof that Trump’s irresponsible proposals must never become U.S. policy. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

5 Reasons Women Need More Seats at the Peace Table

Paris, FRANCE: (FILES) This file picture taken 14 December 2005 at the Elysee Palace in Paris shows (1st Row L to R) Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic, Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic (C) and Croatian President Franjo Tudjman signing the Dayton peace accord on Bosnia, as (2d row L to R) Spanish Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez, US President Bill Clinton and French President Jacques Chirac look on. 14 December 2005 will mark the 10th anniversary of the signing of the Dayton peace agreement which ended more than three years of bloody inter-ethnic war and divided the country into a shaky system of separate but equal entities. AFP PHOTO/FILES/MICHEL GAGNE (Photo credit should read MICHEL GANGNE/AFP/Getty Images)

Paris, FRANCE: (FILES) This file picture taken 14 December 2005 at the Elysee Palace in Paris (MICHEL GANGNE/AFP/Getty Images)

By Christina V. Harris, Women’s Human Rights Coordination Group

“When will we learn that no peace can be sustainable and just without the active and meaningful participation of women?” said Gorana Mlinarević, Nela Porobić Isaković and Madeleine Rees, commenting on the lingering ethnic tensions and gender inequality in Bosnia and Herzegovina 20 years after the Dayton Peace Agreement was made. The Dayton agreement, which was formally mediated, negotiated, witnessed, and signed exclusively by men, is today thought by many to have been a failure.

The agreement came about at a time when just 11 percent of peace agreements included even a reference to women, and five years before the passing of the landmark United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325—the first UN resolution to acknowledge war’s unique, and too often unrecognized, impact on women and girls. Of immense significance, it was also the first resolution to urge UN Member States to increase the participation of women in conflict resolution and peacebuilding efforts—an official move away from the days of Dayton where only male leaders of warring parties were seen as acceptable contributors to peacemaking. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

The UN Sustainable Development Goals: Let’s Step it Up For Gender Equality!

UNPhoto/Sylvain Lietchti

UNPhoto/Sylvain Lietchti

By Nicole Van Huyssteen, Women’s Human Rights Co-group

Sixteen years ago, 189 world leaders gathered at the United Nations Headquarters in New York to adopt the Millennium Declaration, which set out a series of eight time-bound targets with an overall goal of reducing extreme poverty in its many dimensions by the year 2015. These targets — which became known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) — formed a blueprint which committed all nations and leading development institutions to a new global partnership to galvanize unprecedented efforts to meet the needs of the world’s poorest. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

On International Day of the Girl, Stand in Solidarity with Yazidi Women and Girls!

A girl in Khakhe camp who was a victim of Islamic State abuse. This anonymous woman A girl was a victim of abuse by the armed group calling itself Islamic State. Hundreds of Yezidi women and girls have had their lives shattered by the horrors of sexual violence and sexual slavery in IS captivity,” said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Response Advisor, who spoke to more than 40 former captives in northern Iraq. “Many of those held as sexual slaves are children – girls aged 14, 15 or even younger. IS fighters are using rape as a weapon in attacks amounting to war crimes and crimes against humanity.” The women and girls are among thousands of Yezidis from the Sinjar region in north-west Iraq who have been targeted since August in a wave of ethnic cleansing by IS fighters bent on wiping out ethnic and religious minorities in the area. The horrors endured in IS captivity have left these women and girls so severely traumatized that some have been driven to end their own lives. Nineteen-year-old Jilan committed suicide while being held captive in Mosul because she feared she would be raped, her brother told Amnesty International.

A girl in Khakhe camp who was a victim of Islamic State abuse.

By Alice Dahle, AIUSA’s Women’s Human Rights Co-chair

In early August 2014, extremist fighters, who were attempting to create a new Islamic caliphate, the so-called Islamic State (IS), attacked towns and villages in the Mt. Sinjar region of northern Iraq. These combatants are known by various names, including ISIS, ISIL and Da’esh. Their plan began with an ethnic cleansing of the non-Muslim population in the area, with a particular focus on the Yazidi (also spelled as Yezidi) people who had lived there for thousands of years. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Why we’re still fighting on September 28th—the Global Day of Action to Decriminalize Abortion

 

By Kaitlyn Denzler, Women’s Rights Campaigner

Over two and a half years ago, Amnesty International launched the My Body, My Rights (MBMR) Campaign, a global effort to end the control and criminalization of sexuality and reproduction, and to help everyone know and claim their sexual and reproductive rights. Three years on, our work on sexual and reproductive rights remains as important as ever.  Here’s why we’re still fighting: SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

International Justice Must Include Women

Violence devastates the lives of millions of women and girls worldwide every year (Photo Credit: Mahmud Khaled/AFP/Getty Images)

(Photo Credit: Mahmud Khaled/AFP/Getty Images)

By Nicole van Huyssteen and Magdalena Medley, Women’s Human Rights Thematic Specialists 

Ask yourself a question: When you think about war, what is the first image that comes to mind? Do you consider how it affects women?

Women and girls are usually forgotten when thinking about armed conflict, yet they are uniquely and disproportionately affected by it. They represent a high number of casualties of war* and many are victims of rape and sexual violence, which are often used as strategic tools of war to terrorize women and their communities. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST